New LA Times Ethics Code Addresses Blogging

While there’s been plenty of problems with bloggers saying/doing something and other people assuming that those words or actions are endorsed by the bloggers employers, I can only image that grey area gets even greyer when the person is a writer, gets paid to write, and then blogs on the side. LA Observed got ahold of the new Los Angeles Times Ethics Code which addresses this very topic:

“No matter how careful Times bloggers might be to distinguish their personal work from their professional affiliation with the paper, outsiders are likely to see them as intertwined. As a result, any staff member who seeks to create a personal blog must clear it with a supervisor; approval will be granted only if the proposed blog meets the paper’s journalistic standards. When approval is granted, staff members should take care not to write anything in their blogs that would not be acceptable in the newspaper. Staff members should observe the same principle when contributing to blogs other than their own.

Emboldened by me for emphasis. So, anything on their blog has to be something that would be acceptable in the newspaper. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose? But maybe that’s the idea. I mean, if it was acceptable in the newspaper, why would they put it on a blog instead? And same thing goes for comments they might post on other blogs? And if it wouldn’t be acceptable in the paper, they can’t publish it. It also notes that these rules apply to freelancers as well. Additionally there’s a bit about crediting sources which states that The Times will always credit it’s sources unless they are common reference materials but includes no indication as to which of those blogs are considered to be.

This is all interesting because The Times has been using blog formats for a few new sections recently – so they seem to want the benefit of blogs without actually dealing with the realities of blogging.

12 Replies to “New LA Times Ethics Code Addresses Blogging”

  1. This is something I am not sure about.

    How do you tell someone what to say and what to write. i know there are legal parameters as far as libel etc., but since when does the right to freedom of expression allowed to be determined by a newspaper.

    I don’t know this just shows me how tru it may be that newspapers coninue to be biased and want to control that bias.

  2. Are these blogs funded by the newspaper? If that’s the case, then yes they have every right to tell them what to write or not (or face dismissal).

  3. Todd – no, it’s in reference to their personal websites. Or comments they might make on then. Like they are deciding what a Times writer (or freelancer) could post in the comments here, or on their own blogspot page.

  4. I can see if the blog is funded by the times , but if they are not then who is to say what they can write?

  5. I assume it’s in relation to the recent broohaha over a couple of firings over reporters at other papers over their blogs. i’d post links, but these boxes don’t let me anymore. google “Roland H. Thompson”, “Banjo Jones”, “Dennis Horgan”, and “The Sarcastic Journalist.”

  6. Before padding it out with a whole buncha hoops needing to be jumped through, I believe the first draft of the blog section of the memo went something like this:

    Regarding personal blogs. Don’t.

  7. OK, there’s some questions here:

    1. Does this mean that existing blogs are grandfathered in — ie don’t require approval from the staff to continue?

    2. Define “blog” as opposed to, say, a LiveJournal.

  8. Ha! So if you work for the Times, they consider they ‘own’ all of your creative or personal expressions when it comes to print. That sounds a bit illegal as far as copyright and labor laws and other personal issues are involved.
    Again…it’s the reason that the ‘old’ media will eventurally lose it’s power and a ‘new’ media will rise (has risen) to take it’s place.

  9. Ah I see. makes more sense now.

    Heh, maybe more of the journalists are privately conservative, and the Times doesn’t want an opposing viewpoint out there.

  10. I am really starting to think it has to do with the bottom line of the paper.

    Really, How many times have I gotten news faster on these blogsites than the press? I meanm MAyor Sam has the scoop on a lot of political stuff before the paper comes out. And Hexodus and Blogging.la gave us the scoop on Jesus coming to Echo Park before the LA Weekly did.

    It really , I think, has to do with the bottom line.

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